Breakdown: No.4 Wisconsin vs. Rutgers

Possibly playing without their All-American center, No.4 Wisconsin will need to rely on junior forward Sam Dekker and supporting cast when the Badgers take on Rutgers at the RAC Sunday night. BadgerNation breaks down the Frank Kaminsky situation and matchup.

No.4 Wisconsin (15-1, 2-0 Big Ten) vs. Rutgers (9-7, 1-2 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Sunday, January 11, 5 p.m. Central

Arena – The RAC (8,000)

Television - Big Ten Network (Eric Collins and Shon Morris)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)

Series – Wisconsin leads 3-0 (Wisconsin leads 1-0 in Piscataway, N.J.)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 70-62, on December 4, 2004 in Piscataway, N.J.

Wisconsin Probable Starters

10 Nigel Hayes (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 12.1 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (6-3 Senior Guard, 9.5 ppg)

13 Duje Dukan (6-10 Senior Forward, 6.4 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-9 Junior Forward, 12.3 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-4 Senior Guard, 7.7 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Zak Showalter (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 2.8 ppg)

24 Bronson Koenig (6-4 Sophomore Guard, 4.4 ppg)

30 Vitto Brown (6-8 Sophomore Guard, 3.1 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (7-0 Senior Forward, 16.9 ppg)

Rutgers Probable Starters

4 Myles Mack (5-10 Senior Guard, 13.3 ppg)

5 Mike Williams (6-2 Freshman Guard, 7.6 ppg)

10 Junior Etou (6-7 Sophomore Forward, 8.2 ppg)

11 Kadeem Jack (6-9, Senior Forward, 12.1 ppg)

35 Greg Lewis (6-9 Junior Center, 5.3 ppg)

Off the Bench

2 Bishop Daniels (6-3 Junior Guard, 7.3 ppg)

22 D.J. Foreman (6-8 Freshman Forward, 3.1 ppg)

40 Shaquille Doorson (6-11 Freshman Center, 1.7 ppg)

Last Meeting

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Mike Wilkinson scored a career-high 26 points and came up with several big plays in the final 2½ minutes as the 25th-ranked Badgers beat Rutgers 70-62.

"Wilkinson hit the floor more times tonight than any player I've ever seen," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "It wasn't anything different, just going after rebounds and making plays. He'll feel it tomorrow."

Wilkinson went 10-for-14 from the field, including 3-for-5 on 3s, for the Badgers, who shot 60.9 percent from the field in the second half (14-for-23). Wisconsin (4-1) had lost its only road game of the season, 75-61 at Pepperdine.

"We really wanted a road win after Pepperdine," Wilkinson said. "But we really did learn a lot from that game. We're starting to get a feel for each other. We have a chance to become a good team."

Sharif Chambliss added 14 points, all but two on 3-pointers, for the Badgers (4-1), who were coming off a 69-64 victory over No. 12 Maryland.

"Wilkinson did a great job for us tonight," Chambliss said. "I had the opportunity to spot up a couple of times. That's part of the game."

Wilkinson hit a 3 with 16:01 to play that gave Wisconsin its biggest lead of the game, 42-29. But the Badgers went 5:14 without scoring and Rutgers got within 42-37 on a rebound basket by Ricky Shields with 11:55 to play.

Chambliss hit a 3 to snap Wisconsin's drought and Wilkinson made his third of the game with 5:52 left to give the Badgers a 61-51 lead.

Wilkinson, whose previous best was 24 points against Illinois last season, made some big plays in the final 2½ minutes, blocking a shot by Quincy Douby, coming up with the offensive rebound of his missed free throw, and stealing the ball from Bailey.

"I really just go out and do what I can to help us win," Wilkinson said. "My teammates did a great job of moving the ball against the zone and got the ball to me when I was open."

Freshman forward Ollie Bailey had 20 points for Rutgers. Douby had 19 points and Shields added 12.

- Associated Press

Last Time Out

MADISON - The shots weren’t falling with the same consistency the University of Wisconsin had enjoyed over its first two conference games, but senior Josh Gasser wasn’t worried.

With the way the Badgers were connecting from the free throw line, Wisconsin’s lead wasn’t going anywhere.

The Badgers’ shooting finally cooled after five straight halves shooting over 50 percent from the floor, but fourth-ranked Wisconsin grinded out a 62-55 victory over Purdue Wednesday night by hitting its stride from the free throw line.

Improving to 3-0 in Big Ten play for the third straight year, Wisconsin (15-1, 3-0) went 25-for-31 from the free throw line, including 17-for-21 in the second half, and had three players – Frank Kaminsky (21), Gasser (15) and Traevon Jackson (13) – score in double figures because of it.

After center Isaac Haas scored two of Purdue’s 38 points in the paint, cutting the UW lead to 49-47 with 5:22 remaining, Wisconsin went to work at the free throw line. Over the next four minutes and change, Wisconsin scored 13 points on nine possessions, nine of which came on 10 attempts from the free throw line.

The Badgers didn’t waste any bonus situations and didn’t miss a pair of free throw until Jackson had two rim out with six seconds remaining and the result already decided.

“It was good to grind out a win like this,” said Gasser. “Low scoring, we had to fight through some adversity, stay mentally tough, that’s what we needed.”

The Boilermakers didn’t have the same such luck from the free throw line, as Purdue only went 3-for-7 (season lows in both categories). This season the Badgers have made 47 more free throws than their opponents have attempted.

“The game was won and lost at the free throw line,” said Painter. “We had to be able to get to the free throw line and we didn’t.”

All five Wisconsin starters shot above 60 percent from the free throw line and four were above 75 percent, including Kaminsky. Under the weather and having to deal with a pair of 7-footers that weight over 260 pounds each, Kaminsky’s game-high in points was a product of going 11-for-14 from the free throw line.

Painter said his team’s goal coming into the game was to try to keep the ball out of the post and attack Kaminsky, who he called “an athletic guard,” by putting a forward on the senior and try to knock him out of the post, forcing the UW All-American to shoot over players and deal with double teams inside. It wasn’t entirely effective.

“And that’s hard because he’s a good passer,” said Painter, “and he’s a good player.”

-Benjamin Worgull, BadgerNation.com

Series Notes

Wisconsin and Rutgers first meeting was in 1949.

Wisconsin swept a home-and-home series in 2003 and 2004.

This marks the only meeting between Wisconsin and Rutgers this season.

Wisconsin Notes

In 14 seasons at Wisconsin, Bo Ryan has accumulated the best winning percentage in Big Ten history, going 159-66 (.707).

Kaminsky is just four points shy of scoring 1,000 in his UW career. He also needs 23 rebounds to become just the 2nd player in Wisconsin history to tally 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 100 blocks (Mike Wilkinson had 1,532 points, 856 rebounds and 117 blocks).

The Badgers scored 73.5 points per game last season, which was the school’s highest average in 20 years when UW tallied 77.9 ppg in 1993-94. This year UW is averaging 74.2 points per game and ranks eighth in the nation in offensive efficiency, averaging 1.19 points per possession.

The Badgers are averaging just 13.3 fouls per game, the lowest mark in the nation. UW is 1 of 7 teams in the NCAA that has not had a player foul out of a game this season. UW opponents are fouling 18.6 times per game.

On the season, Dekker ranks second on the Badgers averaging 12.3 ppg and 3rd with 4.6 rpg. He is shooting 52.9 percent from the field, including 37.5 percent (18-48) on 3FGs and 71.1 percent from the FT line (32-45).

Rutgers Notes

RU’s last victory over a ranked opponent was a 67-62 win over No. 24 Pittsburgh at the RAC on Jan. 5, 2013. The last time Rutgers defeated a top 10 team was a 67-60 home win over No. 8 UConn on Jan. 7, 2011. The highest ranked team that Rutgers has defeated in its history was No. 6 West Virginia by a 74-64 score at the RAC on Feb. 27, 1982.

Mack ranks fourth in the Big Ten minutes played (35.7), fifth in steals (2.0) and eighth in assists (4.3).

Prediction

Since the ‘big three’ has already been taken, the Wisconsin athletic communications department has decided to dub Dekker, Hayes and Kaminsky as “the redwoods,” supposedly a play off their intimidating height in the interior. The nickname is iffy, but the play of the group is not.

Kaminsky (7-0), Dekker (6-9) and Hayes (6-8) are averaging a combined 41.2 points per game with each player ranking among the Big Ten’s top 25 scorers. They are also grabbing 19.6 rebounds per game (with Kaminsky and Hayes both among the conference’s top five), shooting a combined 54.0 percent (241-446) from the field and 36.9 percent (45-122) from 3-point range.

All three players rank among the Big Ten’s top 15 shooters with Hayes ranking 7th, Kaminsky 10th and Dekker 11th.

Point being, there is no denying how impactful the trio has been in helping the Badgers start the season and remain the last undefeated team in the league. Now the question is how good will Wisconsin be without, arguably, the biggest of the three?

Media reports indicate that Kaminsky, who traveled with the team after missing practice Friday and Saturday, is being treated for a possible concussion and his status is up in the air for this evening. Kaminsky started feeling ill during Wednesday afternoon’s shoot around prior to UW’s win over Purdue, but managed to score a game-high 21 points against a pair of Purdue’s 7-footers.

Having used the same starting lineup in all 16 games this season, Kaminsky leads UW in scoring (16.9) and rebounding (8.2) but took a hard fall following a collision in practice Tuesday and was inadvertently elbowed fighting for a loose ball in the first half against the Boilermakers. He did not address the media following Wednesday’s game.

Wisconsin will likely turn to fifth-year senior forward Duje Dukan, who is averaging 6.4 points and 3.6 rebounds off the bench, or sophomore Bronson Koenig, whose 4.7 assist-to-turnover ratio is tops among Big Ten players with at least 30 assists. Neither player has made a career start.

While losing Kaminsky for considerable time is a worry, it shouldn’t matter today. Rutgers is last in the Big Ten in league games in scoring (54.0 ppg), field-goal percentage (.316), three-point percentage (.227) and free-throw percentage (.597).

Look for Wisconsin to rely on its stout defense and rely on its plethora of other offensive weapons if Kaminsky can’t go to earn a 22-point win over Rutgers.

Worgull's Record: 15-1

Points off Prediction: 108 (6.8 per game)


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